By Jan van de Venis and David Snow | WaterLex |

WaterLex’s participation in events at the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu, South Korea, continued Tuesday, 14 April 2015, as Legal Desk Director Jan van de Venis served as co-facilitator and a panellist in session 2.2.3, a roundtable discussion featuring participants from the International Water Association (IWA), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): “Putting the water-energy nexus into practice: economic and policy incentives.”

Increasingly, the links between water, energy, and food are being recognised, as are the potential conflicts over use which may arise. For example, energy supports water treatment and distribution, while water supports the production of energy such as hydropower and cooling of thermal power plants. Other sectors, such as the extractives industry and food production, require both energy and water. As populations increase and the climate becomes increasingly unpredictable, the demands on these finite resources threaten to push beyond the limits of what the environment can sustain.

Particpants at a roundtable discussion on the water-energy-food nexus at 7WWF agree, regarding finance we need better laws, clear regulations with an integrated approach linking water, energy, food and sustainability incentives, risks and returns on investment. Photo by Jan van de Venis.

Participants at a roundtable discussion on the water-energy-food nexus at 7WWF agree: Regarding finance, we need better laws, clear regulations with an integrated approach linking water, energy, food and sustainability incentives, risks and returns on investment. Photo by Jan van de Venis.

Governments, civil society, and the private sector recognize more and more that a longer-term view on managing water is needed, which means understanding the strategic and economic value of this limited resource. Good policies and incentives help to move towards more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable provision of water and energy services. The public sector can create an attractive enabling environment which mitigates risk and provides incentives for cross-sectoral collaboration, and ensures participation by different groups and consideration of different interests, such as maintaining a healthy environment. And the private sector needs to bring forward innovative approaches including financing mechanisms, such as venture capital funds, eco-compensation, and public-private partnerships.

The session looked at the drivers for integrated investments that are often risky, with complex institutional arrangements. How do we manage the risks to create an attractive environment for investments across the water, energy, and food sectors? And how do we deal with distortions in the different sectors through so-called “perverse” subsidies and the lack of incentives? Participants shared experiences and examples of reconciling different water uses from the local to transboundary level.

WaterLex added to the debate that full stakeholder involvement, including public participation, is crucial for any sustainable outcome in any process around water, food, energy and environmental issues. Such sustainable solutions further require transnational, interdisciplinary, and inter-sectoral cooperation on all elements, including those related to finances / investments. Well-executed Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and sufficiently clear policy frameworks are essential, as well. Incentives for financing should be adjusted, exchanging so-called perverse subsidies on fossil fuels for incentives related to renewable-energy practices, thereby pulling in more sustainable financing.

Related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), WaterLex stressed that human rights can be the basis for better laws, policies, agreements, and solutions which link the goals on water, energy, food, and their sustainable elements.

Van de Venis ended the session with a statement, which was supported and repeated by Chair and Swedish Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Fresh Water, Dr. Lisa Emilia Svensson:

“No proper governance? No proper economic and policy incentives, no proper financing and no proper water-energy nexus. Better laws = better water.”


Political Process: Special Cross-Section Event

In collaboration with UNESCO-IHE, WaterLex will organise a special cross-section event regarding parliamentarians in the Political Process on Wednesday entitled “Shaping an Ideal National Water Law: A Multi-Stakeholder Dialog.” From a multi-stakeholder perspective, the event will examine the essential elements for a water law to lay the foundation establishing water availability and sustainable management for present and future generations. During the event, WaterLex will present its Parliamentarian HelpDesk initiative, as it did in the Monday panel discussion.


Zambia – J.J. Mwimbu, MP – Water management: needs, gaps and opportunities
Switzerland – Luc Recordon, MP – The Swiss legal experience and practices in water management
South Korea – Mrs. Parks, MP – The Korean legal experience and practices in water management
UNESCO-IHE – Zaki Shubber, Lecturer in law and water diplomacy advisor – What can we learn from water-related legal reform in South-Asia? An advisor’s point of view
WaterLex – Jan van de Venis – Legal desk director – The need for a human rights-based approach to integrated water resources management
UNECE – Chantal Demilecamps, Environmental Affairs Officer –
Legal framework to ensure transboundary water management: an example with the 1992 Convention and its implementation guidelines
World Youth Parliamentarian for Water – New President of the movement to be elected – Water management for present and future generations
(Information: Wednesday, 15 April 2015, 15:40- 16:40, Gyeongju HICO 3rd floor, Convention A; session code P.P.special)

Expo activities: #WaterRules!


At the Swiss Water Partnership (SWP) exhibition hall booth, WaterLex maintains an informative table display and shows its short introduction video throughout the forum’s duration. There will also be a talk and networking event entitled, “Water Stewardship – New Legal Challenges” (Tuesday, 14 April, 16:30-19:00). WaterLex Legal Desk Director Jan van de Venis and Legal Desk Officer Dr. Elodie Tranchez will host the event.

In the booth area, WaterLex staff and forum volunteers will take photos of attendees who would like to support better water governance by standing with WaterLex and holding up our Twitter hashtag sign: #WaterRules! We’ll create a photo gallery and use the hashtag in our tweets, and we hope you will, too.

Click here to download and print our sign, take your own photo with it, and post it to Twitter with the hashtag #WaterRules!

Click here to view #WaterRules! photos from the 7th  World Water Forum.

Click here to see example photos of WaterLex staff.

Click here for the full SWP booth programme.

(Information: WaterLex at EXCO – Swiss booth, No. 90, Yutongdanji-ro, Buk-gu, Daegu 702-712, South Korea).

For more information:

WaterLex International Secretariat
Tel: +41 22 907 36 46
Email: info (at)

About WaterLex:

WaterLex is an international public interest development organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a UN-Water Partner with UN ECOSOC special consultative status. Its mission is to develop sustainable solutions based on human rights to improve water governance worldwide, particularly in regard to consistent water law and policy frameworks. It works with an alliance of interested parties to improve water-governance frameworks, bringing them in line with country obligations under international human rights law. The interested parties are individuals and groups working in government (diplomatic missions), academia (professors of law, researchers), bilateral cooperation (water management advisors), the judiciary (high/supreme courts judges), the UN system (UN-Water family members), and civil society (NGOs that work on water issues). WaterLex works in partnership with 85 universities to continuously enrich the content of the WaterLex Legal Database. The organisation is funded by grants and project financing from public agencies, foundations, private gifts, and in-kind contributions. Established in 2010, when the human right to water was recognised by the UN, the organisation has a secretariat in Geneva with 15 staff members, a supervisory board of directors, and a large pool of members and expert advisors. It is an official member of the Global Water Partnership, UNDP Cap-Net, UNDP Global Water Solidarity, UNEP Global Wastewater, and the Swiss Water Partnership.